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Once Upon A Time The Orient Express.

The locomotif of legendary train the Orient Express is standing in front of Intitut du Monde Arabe until the end of August 2014. Il était une fois l’Orient Express or in english “Once Upon a Time The Orient Express” making as the icon of art deco style from the end of 19th century throughout 20th century.

Sncf, the national french rail company also the owner Orient Express since 1977 together with The Institute du Monde Arabe wants to bring up a nostalgia Orient Express back to life to the public after been lost so many years. The idea is to bring a journey like a cruise on rail track.. slowly, romance and luxury. The exhibition was held to celebrate 130th anniversary of maiden voyage for the first time from Paris to Constantinople (now called Istanbul) in 1883.

Orient Express was created by Georges Nagelmakers, a young Belgian engineer. After back from United State, he decided to built fine luxury train for wealthy clients. It was made from the finest materials and the latest facilities at that time such as central heating, hot water and gas lighting. Silk bed sheets, marble baths, crystal goblets and silver cutlery only used on the train. At the beginning the train was made from teak but after 1920 wood was replaced with metal to prevent creaking on the trail. On the dining carriage, the wall was decorated with molten glass designed by a french glass artist René Lalique combined with Cuban mahogany making Orient Express as the trend setter art nouveau style.

Many celebrities had slept in Luxury Orient Express. King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Russian Novelist Leo Tolstoy, American actrees Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, French novelist Pierre Loti, Robert Baden Powell a secret intelligent, a novelist Graham Greene also very well-known adventure and spies Laurence of Arabia to Mata Hari.

In literature and movie, Orient Express also was inspired by authors and writers such Joseph Kessel, Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie where she met her husband for the first time on the train and wrote 3 novels. James Bond movie starred by Sean Connery also had taken on the Orient Express train From Russia with Love.

Champagne flute to set on the the table, crystal glasses, a coat and women’s scarf hanging on the sofa refer to le figaro newspaper 1883 at the first trip.


Walking through the most legendary train for decades starting from the lounge Lalique style, the sleeping car until bar & restaurant car, has brought my imagination to be one of its passenger. I was walking towards to the train escorted by 2 porters walking behind me carry my Louis Vuitton or Goyard trunks until they escort me inside. Walking through these carriages also I could see how their life style during colonial era that usually I know about them just from a movie or history books at school.

The exhibition open until August 31st 2014 at Institut du Monde Arabe.

1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris.
Metro: Jussieu (7)
Open: Tuesday – Thursday, 09h00 – 19h00.
Friday until 21h30
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday until 20h00
Price: 10,50€ /person Adult.

Isna Darmuis-Menneveux

Always lost in Paris. A fashion observer, food explorer, an Indonesian woman lives in Paris who loves to discover new things and frame it to her camera.